Saturday, October 22, 2016

Interview with author Kwame Alexander

Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures

1. What inspired you to write your book?
Animal Ark is a collaboration with photographer, speaker, author, teacher, and conservationist Joel Sartore. Photographing these animals is his life’s passion and work. We were brought in to help introduce the subject of endangered animals to children through poetry. The exquisite photographs inspired us to write the haiku and poetic narrative that gave voice to each image, to each animal.

2. What is it about?
Animal Ark is part of The National Geographic Photo Ark Project committed to documenting every endangered species in captivity through the eye of renowned photographer Joel Sartore. Over 6,000 of the 12,000 animals who are on the endangered list have been photographed. Animal Ark was created to educate young children about our interconnectedness to the animals and to each other in the world and also to inspire conversation about what part they may play in our future. 
3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?
Our hope is that Animal Ark will plant a seed of awareness not only about the endangered animals themselves, but about what part we all play in this.  Ultimately we would like people to care enough to take action and to understand how interconnected our human and animal lives are.

4. What advice do you have for writers?
To write about something that is meaningful to you. For us, endangered animals is a subject with urgency behind it. More important is the role we all play in this delicate balance that will affect the future of all of us, particularly our children and their children. As poets we turn to poetry because it speaks to and accesses the hearts intelligence directly. Writing not only helps give us a voice, it helps us to tune in and listen to what is going on inside and all around us.

5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
The book publishing world has never been this exciting. Writers, especially writers of children’s literature, are becoming more daring in telling authentic stories that need to be told...stories that matter and make a difference in small and big ways. Not only is the writing becoming more daring and truthful, poetry as a storytelling format is becoming increasingly popular with readers. Poetry is alive and well in picture books through young adult literature and beyond, and is coming to life in the classrooms and at home. Kids are now inspired to be poets and storytellers too. The book publishing industry is not only thriving, it is becoming more innovative and interested in distinct, diverse voices. This is incredibly important, as many voices need to be heard to complete the picture. And though we still have a ways to go, we're making progress.

6. What challenges did you have in writing your book?
Approaching the subject matter of endangered animals was a delicate one to present to young children. We wanted to be informative without being scary or depressing. Poetry because of its metaphorical nature makes what you want to say more accessible. Good poems show rather than tell. Poems are pictures much the way photographs are literary snapshots. The combination of the two in Animal Ark is like notes forming chords to a song. 

7. If people can only buy one book come February 2017, why should it be yours?
Animal Ark is more than a book filled with eye catching photographs and beautiful narratives. It is a reminder that when we stop taking care of each other we affect our own future too. No matter how individual we strive to be or think we are, we are in truth one global family. The animals in Animal Ark are one way of talking about how changing what we do now is a way of paying forward to future generations.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.
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